Equipment: When You Could Use a Stiff Belt

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Outside magazine, July 1994

Equipment: When You Could Use a Stiff Belt
By Dana Sullivan

<Weightlifting belts, once the accessory solely of the barbell set, are
now de rigueur for skiers, runners, skaters, and backpackers who want
a little more support. But they’re paying for it through the
“During heavy lifts, a belt will enhance the abdominal muscles’ strength,
because you push against it for extra support,” says David Krantz,
an exercise physiologist and spine-care specialist at Stanford University. “Wearing one
all the time, however, won’t address the real problem, which is
insufficient ab and back muscles. The muscles you’d employ if you
weren’t wearing a belt will weaken pretty quickly if they’re not

So do without a weightlifting belt–and do more stomach crunches and
back extensions–unless you’re going to be repeatedly lifting more than 75
percent of the total weight you can lift only once. Which
brings us back to the barbell set: Most of us will
lift such loads only during squats and deadlifts. For those tasks,
wear a belt that’s only about four inches wide (you can
choose leather or foam) and make sure it settles snugly around
your abs and lumbar region–not around your waist.

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